ECISD Supertintendent Proposes $129 Million Bond 8/8/12
Tonight ECISD Superintendent Hector Mendez brought forward a new $129,750,000 bond proposal for District Trustees to consider.
ECISD has just released the following recap of tonight's meeting:
The Board of Trustees held a special workshop Wednesday night to continue the discussion of the District’s facility needs – specifically, the idea of moving ECISD to a middle school grade configuration and addressing overcrowding issues at elementary schools in the west and the north parts of the county.
Superintendent of Schools Hector Mendez began the presentation by introducing Craig Van Amburgh of CVA Advertising, a member of the Community Group that has been evaluating the school district’s facilities needs since early in 2012.
Mr. Van Amburgh presented a summary of the comments gathered from 9 community focus groups conducted in May. You can see a a copy of the summary here.
Mr. Van Amburgh told Trustees the community input indicated that a middle school grade alignment would be a positive move for the school district and the future of the community.
After Mr. Van Amburgh finished, Mr. Mendez recommended that ECISD move to a middle school grade configuration by building additions to Odessa High School and Permian High School and, at the same time, move to alleviate overcrowding at elementary campuses by building three new elementary schools.
He proposed a bond election of $129,750,000 to build the two high school additions, two elementary schools on the west side of Odessa and another elementary school in the east. The costs are broken down here. The projected tax ramifications of the proposal are listed below in the Q&A section of this story.
Mr. Mendez reminded Trustees that quite a bit of time had been taken to reach this point. School district officials have looked at these issues for years and the community-developed Strategic Plan adopted in 2009 calls for a move to middle schools. He also told Trustees that work has been done to strengthen curriculum, teaching and learning and that it is time to address facilities’ needs.
Chuck Isner addressed the school board saying that he is excited to see ECISD moving to a middle school grade alignment. He said the district must be aligned with the rest of the state in order to achieve the student success it desires. He said he wanted the Trustees to understand his strong, strong support for this measure. He added that he would like to see four high schools in this community but the idea of having 9th graders on the high school campus is important and he supports this move using OHS and PHS.
Questions from school board members:
Luis Galvan, Position 1 – In discussion with the focus groups and community, was there any talk of the community being willing to help pay for expansion or building? Mr. Van Amburgh: No, there was not. We didn’t know what the cost might be at that point and the focus groups were designed to gauge perceptions and opinions of the school district.
Donna Smith, Position 3 – What is the financial impact to the taxpayers of a $129,750,000 bond? Hector Mendez: For a bond of this size, for the average home of $82,265 it would mean a tax increase of $47.76 per year...for a $100,000 home $57.96 per year… for a $200,000 home $116.04 per year… for a $300,000 home $174.000 per year.
How long will bond payments run? Normally 25 years but that can be negotiated.
What will operating costs for new schools include? There would be the need for additional staff at the high schools even though most 9th grade teachers would be moved from the junior highs to the high schools. For the new elementary schools, there would have to be an adjustment of existing boundaries and some schools with low enrollment could be closed and teachers moved to the new schools. Administrators will make the effort to keep additional operational costs to a minimum – figures show the additions at the two high schools would add approximately $3.8 million to annual operating costs.
What affect does being a Chapter 41 school have on bond payments? None of the money for debt payment is subject to recapture by the state.
I am interested in the focus group comments about a drop to class 4A being a concern about moving to middle schools. I don’t like the idea of the larger high schools; why are we suggesting this move to be done this way? Craig Van Amburgh – There was the opinion that adding a third or fourth high school would cause ECISD to drop to class 4A from class 5A and that the community would not support the idea of middle schools if meant a drop in class. Hector Mendez – There is also a large financial impact of adding a third or fourth high school that would be added to the District’s annual operating budget; costs that we cannot afford at this time.
Yollie Wilkins – Will the new buildings at the high schools be self-contained for 9th graders? Hector Mendez: I don’t know the answer to that yet. The answer will come out fully as the design is worked out.
Fay Batch – You talked about meeting with various community groups through this process. What about the Tri-Ethnic Committee? Hector Mendez – We met with theTri-Ethnic Committee yesterday, in fact, and the group was in unanimous support of the middle school concept.
At the conclusion, Mr. Mendez thanked members of his leadership team, the community group, and the Trustees for their work in reaching this point. He added that he and his team are dedicated to making ECISD the best place in the nation and he has great confidence in presenting this proposal. He told Trustees he will schedule another school board meeting next week to make a formal recommendation for Trustees to consider and vote on.
Board president Ray Beaty thanked Mr.Mendez for his work and said he looked forward to next week’s meeting.
Adjourned at 6:54 p.m.